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Police seize evidence in Vatican financial investigation

Service Area: Criminal and Regulatory

Member: Roger Isaacs

Italian police have raided the offices of the First Section of the Secretariat of State and the State Financial Information Authority at the Vatican and seized documents and electronic devices as part of an investigation of suspected financial irregularities.

The Secretariat of State, the most powerful department in the Vatican, is the nerve centre of its bureaucracy and diplomacy and the administrative heart of the Catholic Church.

The raid appears to be a follow-up to complaints filed in the summer by the Vatican Bank and the Office of the Auditor General relating to “financial operations carried out over the course of time”.

Five people have been suspended as part of the investigation, including the second in command at the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF), which is an anti-money laundering authority designed to lend transparency to operations by the Institute of Religious Works (IOR), which acts as the Vatican Bank.

The IOR handles the accounts of Vatican employees, as well as clerics, religious congregations and diplomats affiliated with the Holy See.

However, the institution has become embroiled in political and financial scandals repeatedly over the past few decades.

Whenever suspicion of financial irregularity is suspected, investigating officers try to seize as much documentation as they can, along with electronic devices, as these can be searched for documents or other evidence that may have been deleted. In addition, the timings of calls between people and their location when they make calls can be important evidence.

All forensic investigations hinge on evidence, so the focus by the Italian authorities on collecting as much information and documentation as possible, is no surprise.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “No organisation can ignore the possibility of financial impropriety and, as is evident here, a key to uncovering what has gone on is being able to act swiftly to minimise the possibility that evidence might be destroyed or manipulated.”

Author : Roger Isaacs
4 October 2019